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Donald Tsang

Hong Kong leader CY Leung received six times fewer gifts than Donald Tsang, register shows

Tsang did not keep any of the gifts for his own use, whereas Leung kept one – a set of personal care items

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 February, 2017, 1:58pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 February, 2017, 10:14pm

Former Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen received a total of 1,270 gifts during his second term from 2007 to 2012, but incumbent Leung Chun-ying received just 204 – six times fewer than Tsang’s tally.

But Tsang did not keep any of them for his personal use, whereas Leung kept one – a set of personal care items.

The sixfold decline may be attributed to increased wariness about gift-giving and receiving in the wake of the corruption probe against Tsang, according to a former Independent Commission Against Corruption investigator.

On Friday, Tsang became the city’s first ever chief executive to be convicted in a criminal trial as the High Court found him guilty of misconduct in public office when he was the city’s leader.

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The chief executive’s Register of Gifts lists all the official gifts that are perceived to be worth more than HK$400.

A check by the South China Morning Post found that Tsang was given 1,270 gifts in his last term, more than six times the 204 items presented to Leung from July 2012 to December 2016, when the register was last updated.

The most popular type of present given to Tsang was food. He received 245 boxes over the five-year period, followed by 215 display items and 171 bottles of wine.

Painting a completely different picture, books were the most popular gift items for Leung. He was given 86 books, 29 boxes of food and 22 display items.

Only a dozen bottles of wine were presented to him.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, a former investigator with the Independent Commission Against Corruption, believed the investigations on Tsang deterred people or companies from giving gifts.

“Members of the public and also the Chief Executive’s Office now adopt a more stringent standard in giving out and receiving gifts,” he said.

But Lam said the government should boost the transparency of the register, which only categorised gifts received without specifying what they actually were and how much they cost.

“I understand it might be hard to estimate the value of each gift but the administration should offer as much detail as possible,” he said.

“They should upload pictures of the gifts so members of the public will at least have a rough idea of what they actually are.”

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Lam also called on the government to implement the recommendations put forward by the Independent Review Committee for the Prevention and Handling of Potential Conflicts of Interest, set up in the wake of the Tsang scandal and chaired by former chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang.

The task force called on the administration to extend the application of sections 3 and 8 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance to the chief executive and establish an independent committee to give permission for the acceptance of advantages by the city’s leader.

It also recommended renaming the Register of Gifts as the Register of Advantages, so all advantages received by the chief executive in his private capacity could be recorded and gifts could only be accepted with the independent committee’s permission.

“Leung has completely turned a blind eye to the recommendations put forward by Li’s panel and the next chief executive should really put them back on the agenda,” Lam said.

Chief executive contenders John Tsang Chun-wah and Woo Kwok-hing have both pledged to implement the suggestions put forward by the review panel.

A spokesman of the Chief Executive’ Office said they would continue with the current practice of the Register.

Top gifts presented to Donald Tsang

1. Food (245)

2. Display items (215)

3. Wine (171)

4. Hats (120)

5. Potted plants (94)

6. Hampers (98)

7. Books (84)

8. Paintings (47)

9. Tea leaves (24)

Top gifts presented to Leung Chun-ying

1. Books (86)

2. Food (29)

3. Display items (22)

4. Tea leaves (12)

5. Wine (12)

6. Bouquets (5)

7. Fruit hampers (5)

8. Potted plants (3)

9. DVD sets (3)

Source: Chief Executive’s Office